Weekentesting on the other side of the world
At least it is for me and there were some benefits. WeekendTesting-chapter in Australia and New Zealand (WTANZ) had their second session. As it was raining and still early in the Netherlands (just 8 PM) I asked to participate. As I was almost an hour too late I had less time available to test the mission as provided.
Here's our mission today: The mission: Exploratory testing of how easy it is to get data in different formats about education in the United States and the United Kingdom from http://data.gov/ and http://data.gov.uk/.
The Participants were:
Marlena Compton (facilitator)
Jaswinder Kaur Nagi (aka Jassi)
As mentioned I attended too late so I had another challenge, instead of following the mission am I able to get enough information to be able to start next time. Like in normal life you are faced with situations were an approach have to be defined and less time and information is available.
As I understood from the discussion and de briefing, the website ought to be similar and also with a similar objective. To understand more about the sites I came to the idea to find out about the objectives and compared them. I also checked on visual sight the structure of the site based on the menu items.
Next to it the tone of voice was important for me the learn more about the audience.
During the checking I scrolled a bit thru the menu and decided to use an old tool called Astra Site Manager which was developed by Mercury (now HP). Although this tool is not flawless, it sure provided the information I was looking for. how complex is the site.
Website map of http://www.data.gov/ created with Astra Site Manager
Website map of http://data.gov.uk/ created with Astra Site Manager
If you compare the images you will noticed that there is some differences in structure. I think a map like this is usable to identify areas/ pin point areas were risk can be identified. If an area contains some risk you might come up with some other exploring questions as: "if user data is used how does it flow through other screens?"
As result of this tool I came up with some unreliable metrics like the number of URL's.
The UK site counted over 5961 URL's and US-site counted over 4903 URL's.
If I use these numbers with the goal of the sites: sharing information to the public, then I question: How will the public be able to find valuable information if it exceed their ideas. How will the public be able to find the right information? The change of finding some information is due to the high number if links high, the change if that information is the correct information depends how the search engine works. When will the result be the best and reliable result?
Looking to the technology: On the US-site they just use the icons for facebook and twitter. On the UK-site they explain what they do. Does this mean that the audience is different?
What I also noticed when running the tool is the differences in files which can be downloaded, from .xls, .csv, .pdf, .txt to .xlm. Also there is no usages of naming conventions in the documents as well in the webpages and directories.The discussion
The round up was interesting, they all shared their experience and wondered if they met the mission. Some found their way using google for information, others came up with an well spoken approach. I learned from this session as well and hope others did too.
- Comparing different web site: decide which will be your "Oracle" and why
- Tone of voice is different and tells something about the expected audience
- Question the value of information when it is offered in huge numbers and what is the change the right information is found
- Creating a map can be useful to pin-point risk areas and pin-pint value for the users.
- Usage of file names and the similarity can tell some about the quality of the site, at least the change of errors
- Huge number of web-pages might result in higher chance of failure, why are these kind of websites this huge?